Categories
Christian Living

If in Doubt… A Prayer for the Week

He spoke to the Woman: “Do I understand that God told you not to eat from any tree in the garden?” Genesis 3:1b

O, the temptress. I hear you in the shadows. You slither into my lonely moments and whisper in my ear.

And yet… despite you. To spite you. Stomping you out! Ignoring your coy tactics! I make a choice. I rest in my choice. I cling to my choice.

I will not allow your sneaky voice of doubt a defining foothold. No whisper, seeking clarity, will recast my mission. I will not be defined by you, I will define you!

Instead:

  • If in doubt… I’ll teach the Bible.
  • If in doubt… I’ll say I don’t know.
  • If in doubt… I’ll take the challenge.
  • If in doubt… I’ll spend time with people my own age.
  • If in doubt… I’ll compliment and encourage instead of criticize or question.
  • If in doubt… I’ll be bold with what God’s laid on my heart.
  • If in doubt… I’ll invest in people instead of projects.
  • If in doubt… I’ll go with less planning, more doing.
  • If in doubt… I’ll say yes to a wild idea.

Yes, these are scary times. And scary times make counter-productive doubts seem reasonable.

I’ve made a choice to stand as a crazy man, convinced that God can use me to change things. Circumstances mean nothing. Opposition is a joke. Logic is often illogical. Realism is veiled fatalism!

While it seems natural to teeter-totter, like Thomas, between faith in what God can do and doubt in what I can barely allow myself to dream about God doing– I reject doubt’s gravitational pull and fling myself forward in faith.

Let doubt not define me today. Instead, allow me to define my life as one who overcomes doubts with  radical, ridiculous, simple, and audacious faith.

Lord, hear my prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Amen. 

Categories
Christian Living

Lead us to the river bank

Photo by Patrick Medved via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Can you imagine what was running through Moses’ head as he stood there on the bank of the Nile waiting for Pharoah to arrive? (Exodus 7)

  • I’m doing what God told me to do. (Kept on Repeat.)
  • Uh, why didn’t I write that down? Did God say today or was it next week?
  • Why didn’t God turn like a master blaster grenade launcher into a snake? Why this stupid stick? I feel like an idiot with a stick.
  • This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. Aaron, is this the dumbest thing I’ve ever done? Don’t answer that.
  • God didn’t say what Pharaoh and his posse might do to me. Aaron, did God say He’s got our back if they shoot arrows at us?
  • What if this doesn’t work and I’m just a moron yelling at Pharaoh on the side of the river? A burning bush told me so, yeah that will stand up in court.
  • I look like an idiot. What am I doing here?

Standing there. On the banks of the Nile. Pharaoh shows up and Moses only has plan A. If this doesn’t work he’s a dead man.

Faith Like Moses

Has there ever been a time in your life where you’ve stood on the river banks yelling and demanding something so big and so important that you were willing to stake everything for it?

These are questions I’m asking myself as I start this week…

When does my theology get in the way of my faith? Are there things I believe God can’t do? Are there problems I’ve been told are unsolveable? Am I afraid to seek the miraculous? Am I afraid what might happen if I am dumb enough to obey God’s command, wake up in the morning, take my brother and my staff and just wait on the banks of the river and say the exact words He gave me to say?

The Bible is full of stories of men and women dumb enough to believe in the impossible. Today we look at them as heroes. But they defied logic, they felt dumb, and their friends/family probably told them they were dumb. (Until they pulled it off.)

They pushed aside Plan B, C, and D and just obeyed the Lord’s commands. They stood on river banks yelling at Pharaoh. They lit soaking rocks on fire. They gave birth to children in their nineties. They looked at blind men and told them to see. They got out of the boat and walked on water.

My prayer for the week: God, lead us to your river bank. Make us a people stupid enough to obey you. Bring miracles which explode our theology. Allow us to put your commands above our plans. We are desperate for you to be God and for us to be Your people.  Amen.

Categories
Christian Living

Stop learning and start acting

Photo by Meredith Farmer via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I’m surprised how much listening and reading we are expected to do as Christians.

  • Listen to a sermon each week – 35-45 minutes
  • Read from the Bible each day – 15-30 minutes
  • Listen to people read Bible verses and sing songs at church – 60 minutes
  • Attend a weekly mid-week service, small group, or youth group – 30-60 minutes
  • Listen to podcasts of even more sermons – 60-90 minutes per week

Is the Christian life just about listening and reading or is it supposed to be about learning?

Because if it’s about learning– I don’t learn very much by listening and reading in other areas of my life.

  • I have only read 1-2 books and maybe watched a couple of television shows about parenting, but I’ve learned how to parent.
  • Outside of the Bible, I can’t think of any non-fiction book I’ve finished… ever. I start books but never finish them.
  • I go to a job each day where I learn lots each day, and I’ve never read a book or listening to a lecture on almost any of it. “On the job training” has defined my work life.
  • I’m learning how to garden, but I haven’t read a book about it and I wouldn’t even know where to start to find a lecture about it.

On and on. In most areas of my life I learn mostly by doing and almost never by sitting passively and listening or reading the same book over and over again.

The Christian life is so passive. It is repulsive. We believe all of the right things and act on none of it.

Who is all of this instruction for?

The people hearing it or the person teaching it?

If I’m honest, I learn way more when I’m asked to teach from the Bible than I do if I just sit on my hands for 30 minutes and listen. And yet pastors teach and everyone else is expected to just listen… and even if we learn something no one is ever going to ask us to put it into action, nor follow-up with us, nor hold us accountable. Each Sunday is a new data dump. There will never be a test. We’ll never be asked to write papers. No one ever asks us if we are actually learning.

If the Christian life were a class– church is the lecture series we audit.

Did Jesus die so I could go to church and listen to sermons I’ll never put into action?

Is that what we really believe? All of the empirical evidence seems to point to that. Our systematic theology says no, but our practical theology says yes.

For all the messages that have been preached to me, the thousands of hours of Bible study, and the thousands of hours of mid-week teaching I’ve received you’d think, the hundreds of thousands of dollars invested into me– at some point, someone would look at me and say, “Dude, you know everything you need to know. Get out of here and live this stuff. Stop learning and start doing!

That’s never going to happen. Why? Because we measure passive activity and mislabel it as success. We lie to ourselves by rewarding the wrong people, we label passive reception of God’s word as good, and putting the Word to action is tertiary.

It’s not supposed to be this way.

James, who knew Jesus’ teaching well, was right. He addressed this danger directly.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

James 1:22-25

Get out and live the Gospel. Stop learning and start acting on what you’ve learned.

Jesus didn’t die for you so that you could go to church and hear people preach. Of course you don’t believe that.

Live otherwise.